Highest achieving students recognized at 12th annual ERA Awards

By Meg Richards, Staff Writer

The Emerson Recognition Achievement Awards, or ERA Awards, took place in the Robert J. Orchard Theater last Friday, where students across all majors were recognized for various extracurricular achievements of the year.

The ERA Awards, which was disco themed this year, has been recognizing student achievement since 2011. It debuted as a show in which organizations had the chance to hand over their leadership to the next generation of leaders—now, it’s evolved into a campus recognition awards show, according to Jennifer Nival, the college’s director of Student Engagement and Leadership. 

Nominations can be made on behalf of students, or by students, for themselves. Awards include Student Organization of the Year, Orientation Leader of the Year, ERA Award of Distinction, and Emersonian of the Year, among several other awards.

SEAL partners with a student committee every year to host the ERA Awards, overseeing the students and collaborating with their team.

“We were really intentional with hiring students to fulfill responsibilities,” Nival said. “We did the behind the scenes, but [the students] are really the driving factor behind ERA from start to finish.”

Amaris Ramirez, a junior visual and media arts major, won the Fraternity-Sorority Leadership award for her role as president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, the only national sorority on campus. Her work in the sorority includes exploring philanthropic causes the organization can take on and optimizing collaboration between members. 

“Giving back to the community is huge,” she said. “When you’re raising money and awareness, you tend to get really close to [the causes] and…you learn what matters most in the world. It’s important as a college student, when you’re in such a bubble, to [learn] about other stuff going on.”

Attending the awards on Friday, Ramirez reveled in the highly decorated, electric environment she was immersed in. 

“It was really interesting because I hadn’t been to an Emerson awards show. It was very nice, very cute [and decorated],” she said. “They even had performances by EDC, so that was really fun. I didn’t expect it to be a whole production, so it was really interesting to see that from an audience perspective.”

According to Nival, the show was incredibly “energetic,” and went according to plan. 

“Overall, the flow of the program went really really nicely,” she said. “Having time to do tech rehearsals was a little [challenging], because there’s limited time to be in the space…just making sure it was as perfect as it could be.”

Lily McCormick, a junior VMA major, was the chair of the event and acted as a liaison for the committee. A challenge she encountered was communication, though she said the skills and tools learned in her classes helped with that immensely. 

“A lot of classes here are based on collaboration, and [about] working with others rather than honing in on your own craft,” she said. “Over time, I realized it’s more of a collaborative environment…you’re not left by yourself. That made it run smoother.”

Similarly, Ramirez recognized how Emerson’s hands-on courses equip students with skills they can apply in student organizations, such as the sorority she won an award for. 

“There’s an intersection for sure,” she said. “For film or any creative industry, networking is huge, knowing people is huge. From my role in the sorority, I can definitely apply [these principles] in the future…just putting my all into it, which I do for the sorority right now, is super helpful.”

Leila Castellari, a senior VMA major, served as the committee’s Business/Marketing Coordinator. 

“I work with SEAL as an operations assistant, so I collaborate with people in that role and I was looking to do that more,” she said. “I came into the role hoping to and excited to collaborate with people.”

While planning this event, Castellari learned how to collaborate with others—a skill that’s applicable to her career as well. 

“Something I overcame in terms of communication is taking the first step to ask someone when you’re unsure of something,” Castellari said. 

She also reminisced on the feelings of giddiness, pride, and relief that overcame her and her fellow committee members when they first saw the venue decorated for the show the night before. 

“It was very exciting,” Castellari said. “Especially when you’ve been planning something for months, seeing it actually exist and come together is such an exhilarating feeling. It was very rewarding to see all our work manifest.”

Tim Scalzo, a senior theater, design, and technology major, served as the technical coordinator for the show. As Technical Director, they were tasked with putting together a production team of volunteers to do lighting design, sound design, and other technical elements of the prosecution. They said that learning balance throughout the production process was instrumental to the success of the show.

“We’re trying to create a fun event, but there’s a practical [aspect],” they said. “[You have to learn how to] balance what is possible, versus what is cool and fun.”

Scalzo said their Scenic Design I and II classes equipped them with the tools and skills needed to apply to their job as Technical Coordinator and Scenic Designer. 

“As the scenic designer, you’re creating the world that the play or the show lives in,” they said. “We’re telling an awards show story, so it kinda just has to be glamorous and fun. It was still a similar process finding [inspiration]. You kinda get into that brainstorming process [finding] what ways you can evoke disco.” 

As other members of the committee have expressed, it was rewarding to see it all come together, said Scalzo.

“The fun thing about this show is the potential,” Scalzo said. “I only started doing it last year, and I’m graduating now, but there’s so much potential to do cool stuff. I’m excited to see what happens next year.”